Ten Bar & Lounge at the Wyndham Houston West Energy Corridor unveiled three specialty cocktails on March 1, created by local hospitality students as part of a new partnership with University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. The menu will change each semester, with new cocktails selected from a juried competition of students. One dollar from every specialty menu purchase will benefit Hilton College.
Featured cocktails for spring include the Kiss My Fireball, a tangy concoction of whiskey, cranberry, and sour apple elements developed by Jeremy House; Jessica Almeida's Texas Rose, a gin martini incorporating grapefruit juice and sparkling rose wine; and the Apple Cinnamon Smashed Apple, Laryssa Kruijs' take on the apple martini, combining spiced rum, cinnamon vodka, and apple cider.
Eighteen students from Dr. Glenn Cordua's Beverage Management class participated in the first cocktail challenge, which was judged by a panel that included Cordua; Glenn Dickerson, the hotel's food & beverage director; cookbook author Erin Hicks; and Lindsey Brown, PR director for the Clumsy Butcher group.
Cordua, who with his brother Michael, founded the Cordua Family of Restaurants, which includes Churrascos, Américas, Artista, and Amazón Grill, sees this partnership as something that will benefit his students on several levels.
"This is an outstanding experiential-learning opportunity,” says Cordua. “These students weren't just tasked to create cocktails in a classroom, but rather to lay the groundwork for a new beverage program with offerings that needed to complement the upscale sports bar format, mesh with staffing and product parameters, and resonate with existing hotel audiences, while still allowing for opportunities to expand the clientele.”
For the hotel, which is in the final stages of a $12-million renovation, the partnership is a natural outgrowth of other initiatives that empower young people.
"Hilton College is recognized internationally as one of the world's best hospitality programs. We're thrilled to be involved with the school and feel that the program allows us to give our guests a unique taste of Houston while supporting those seeking a career in hospitality," says hotel GM Chris Miller.
Miller believes the enhanced cocktail offerings will further bring the property in line with the elevated expectations of the Energy Corridor and begin to solidify Ten Bar & Lounge as a preferred spot for area residents.